Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) From Our Mooney Buyers Kit

For Novice Or First Time Mooney Buyers Regarding Common Mooney Marketplace Half-Truths & Non-Mooney Pilot's Old Wives Tails, Revealed!

(With Honest Practical Answers)

Also Included (at the end), Several Mooney Insider Bonus Features

1) Real World Prospective Buyers Horror Stories Of How Not To Buy A Mooney

2) GA Aircraft Owner/Sellers Threshold of Honesty Syndrome; Don't let it cost you thousands!

3) A Real World professional discussion on the various kinds of Mooney Aircraft Damage History (DH) and how it truly affects ownership and resale etc. and how it truly affects ownership and resale etc.

What follows is a short abbreviated list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) from prospective Mooney buyers as taken from Coy Jacob's book; The Backwards Tails. We bet many of these are the same questions you may have concerning Mooney ownership. Read Coy's interesting and invaluable book for, the rest of the story and much more about Mooneys!

These interesting Buyers FAQ's are followed by a short section of real world reports which have reached us by buyers attempting to buy Mooneys. The Q & A's we have duplicated here are some of the most commonly asked questions we have assembled over the last 10-15 years in dealing in, and modifying Mooneys.

While a much more comprehensive list of Mooney FAQ's (as well as loads more valuable information) is included in our Complete Mooney Buyers Kit (MBK) and the

The Backwards Tales you can think of this list of FAQ's as sort of an interesting sampling or teaser of what you may expect in our Complete MBK.

Also, if you are new to aircraft ownership we provide a special section here on real world Mooney Performance, Specs, and Cash Flow budget requirements for owners. We call it our Mooney Performance & Budget Scratch Pad. Don't leave our Mooney For Sale section before you visit it.

First, A Few Thoughts From The Author

Coy G Jacob

Frankly, when considering purchasing any used Mooney, we simply can't see the logic in spending the amounts of money quality pre-owned Mooneys cost nowadays, without first becoming familiar with not only the M20 product line, but also intimately aware of the various peculiarities and production nuances associated with the various model M20s as produced by a company which has had numerous ownership changes (read differing production nuances) during the M20 production cycle.

We can't recommend our popular 6 lb. Mooney Buyers Kit (MBK) strongly enough. However, for those of you who haven't acquired it yet, we do offer a huge sampling of Buyers FAQ's which will go a long way to keep you from making (what may very well be) a $50-200,000 mistake.

A vital aspect of acquiring a Mooney smartly is the knowledge of how to properly inspect and evaluate prospective pre-owned Mooney aircraft. This not only means the hard facts but also the ability to compare what you find as relative to the current marketplace infentory as a whole. You simply can't belive how many times I hear new owners to lament; I only wish I had talked to you or read your book before I bought my Mooney.

In assembling research for articles and pilot reports I have penned for various magazines such as Aviation Consumer, MAPA Log, The Aviation Consumers UAG Books, and Light Plane Maintenance Magazines, etc., we have uncovered facts that it is not uncommon for a new owner to spend a minimum of 10%+ of the original purchase price in playing catch-up maintenance and rectifying numerous otherwise hidden un-airworthy squawks long after the seller has been paid off and departed the scene. We term this the Deferred Maintenance Phenomena. In fact, we use the figure $4,000 to $11,000 is an average number to apply to M20's which have not been maintained in accordance with the Mooney Service Manual and/or by a recognized Mooney Service Center or Mooney specialty shop.

This fact alone, reinforces the need for a sophisticated body of accurate information such as our Mooney Buyers Kit (MBK) which goes a long way to help, level the playing field in your behalf while assisting you in your quest for a good pre-owned Mooney.

Remember, Mooneys being what they are, they are usually not all that second nature to most local, or generic A&P's including experienced mechanics, many aircraft CFI's, and even other aircraft dealers. Consequently our MBK contains valuable information such as the book I wrote called THE BACKWARDS TAILS, our (industry standard) 74 Point Pre-Purchase Check List as well as our time-proven list of The 36 Most Common Pre-purchase Squawks (incl. parts & labor to repair). Many buyers report theses items alone were well worth the cost of our MBK when considering any used Mooney.

Therefore, we strongly recommend you acquire our comprehensive 6 lb. Mooney Buyers Kit prior to making a firm deal on virtually any Mooney.


Important: Many of the answers you read here may run somewhat contrary to what you have heard elsewhere and in the past about Mooneys. We feel our reputation and hands on experience speaks for itself. So judge for yourself, but we have made a sincere effort to offer frank responses to many of the questions we commonly field from novice or soon to be Mooniacs.

Question) I have always heard a Mooney's cabin is small or narrow. Compared to an Arrow, Cessna 172, or Bonanza just how does a Mooney's cabin compare?

Answer) This is one of the most common half truths concerning a Mooney. In reality any M20's cabin actually measures approx. 43 ½ wide at the elbow area, just about exactly the same as most brand B, C, & P's cabins, with 4/6 place Cessna & Piper cabins measuring a few inches wider. Even the brand new M20's are the exact same cabin WIDTH as the very first M20B/C built over 30 years ago. Don't believe it? Measure it for yourself.

There are however, 3 different M20 cabin lengths:
1) the original length or short body (M20B/C/E)
2) the mid-length (M20G/F/J/K)
3) the latest production versions, the longest or stretched cabin M20L/M/R-TLS-Ovation-Eagle.

The huge majority of the various stretches however, went into the baggage and rear seat areas as the front seat leg room is hardly affected except that the front seat occupants can slide their seats further aft during ingress & egress as well as when at cruise.

When compared to most other competitive cabins such as the Bonanza, there is however less extra room above your head and shoulders in a M20 as the cabin does curve inward sooner and you sit closer to the floor, but in practice the room is adequate. Except for many Experimental aircraft, most all other production singles allow for you to sit up or more up-right father from the floor. In M20's you sit much closer to the floor and your legs are more straight out much like a Corvette. After all, when viewed from the front, the overall frontal area is noticeably smaller in a M20 than most any other production single.

Most guys who tell you a Mooney is far too small to be comfortable or even useful, simply have never sat in, or flown a Mooney much; if at all. Getting in and out of a M20 does however, require more contortions than many others. Interestingly, I also know of several M20s with 3 seat belts installed across the rear seat for kids, and (yes, it is legal).

Question) I am tall or about 6'4 can I fly or comfortably fit in a Mooney?

Answer) Yes, and as surprising as it may sound, there is actually more (front seat) pure leg room in most M20's than many other brands. Just about anyone 6'2 (and under) can fly an original length short body M20E or C, and still carry folks sitting behind them. For pilots much taller or if you carry 4 large adults much of the time, we recommend a mid length M20F,J, K, etc. . Even the original length (short body) M20s will carry two common sized couples, or a family with the taller folks in the front, smaller ones or women in the rear. Not lots of extra room, but generally about the same as airline coach fare in an aircraft such as a DC-10.

Question) I have heard all kinds of stories about how fast a Mooney is or isn't. Prior to considering an M20 Mooney I was leaning toward a more powerful 6 cyl. aircraft such as a Bonanza or 210. Just what kind of cruise can actually I expect from a 180-200 hp. 4 cyl. older vintage Mooney?

Answer) That depends, pre-201s (M20C,E, & F's) vary more year to year than model to model. A otherwise stock but clean pre-201 is capable of cruising @ 165/175 MPH or better, while a earlier vintage M20J/201 will cruise some 10-12+ mph faster. The newer vintage ('84 & up) or modified M20J's are slightly faster yet. Facts are, M20s respond exceedingly well to OEM factory mods and when fully modified can cruise at 185/195 MPH on less than 9 GPH giving over 20 MPG! As a rule, they behave (perform) like they have about 250-285+ Hp.

Turbo M20K/231's on the other hand, can top over 210-220 mph at cruise with 252's being noticeably faster especially at FL altitudes, where they like to be flown. There is not that much difference between a 270 hp TLS and a 210/220 hp M20K/252 at cruise; maybe only some 10+/- MPH or so. In fact, the M20K/252 probably holds more official NAI/FAI World Speed Records for its class than any other piston engine GA aircraft. No question, Mooneys currently are The Fastest Piston Production Singles by a comfortable margin. In fact, it generally takes a turbine to beat their speeds.

Note: For example, I personally hold two official World Speed Records in my personal modified turbo M20K/262-cj.

Question) I am looking at pre-201's such as 180 HP M20C or a 200 HP M20E or F, but have been told to only buy a fuel injected 200 HP vs. a carbureted 180 HP Mooney because of its higher cruise. Your thoughts?

Answer) Slow down and listen to this answer! This is one of the most famous half-truths or old Mooney wives tales around. Facts are, there is but a smidgen performance difference between most all 180HP M20C's vs. 200HP M20E & F's. I tell the M20E & F drivers never to race any of the clean wing M20C guys title for title as they may loose their aircraft! Usually, about 3 MPH is the only difference (if that) at cruise and most any simple speed mod can overcome that. Usually M20C's are priced significantly lower and when one is modified most usually can handily out run most any 200 HP M20E/F. I cover this topic in far greater detail in my book; THE BACKWARDS TALES which is part of our 6 lb. MBK. I advise any potential buyer to acquire and read this material prior to investing in any Mooney. Also, see our separate Scratch Pad on Mooney Performance and Economics for more details.

Question) I am trying to decide between an Arrow, Bonanza, or a Mooney. After all is said and done, is there really much difference in performance and ownership features?

Answer) We think so, but what is more important the majority of the marketplace apparently thinks so as well. For years most M20's have been leaders in BLUEBOOK appreciation and generally sell exceedingly well. The Bonanza is a great aircraft but will cost you probably 2 or 3 times as much to maintain and fly, while the Piper is built noticeably less stout and doesn't perform with an M20 by almost any standard. Usually a clean wing vintage M20 will be some 20-25+ MPH faster than most Arrows, and Cardinals & 182RG's etc. and on par with a Beech on much less fuel.

If Beechcraft priced the Bonanza parts comparatively with Mooney parts and you could get a Bonanza/Debonair serviced for the same costs as a M20, then it would be a tough choice. In our opinion, for years Beech is far too proud of their parts and product support and an older (maintenance monger) 210 or the less stout Arrow is (in my opinion) not in the same class as either a M20 or a Beech 35/36. Also, see our separate Scratch Pad on Mooney Performance and Economics for more details.

Question) How hard is a Mooney to learn to fly or to master? I have heard stories but I have never even ridden in one.

Answer) The official NTSB/FAA accident rates speak to this. The M20 is no more difficult than any complex retract and far simpler than most. The gear is bulletproof in operation and hell for stout. It slips fantastic, has hell for stout general fuselage 4130 steel tubular construction, and a massive (one piece) spar constructed wing which has proven to be indestructible. You almost have to commit suicide in one to get hurt in one.

Usually, we tell novice Cessna or Piper pilots it will take 5-10 hours to get safe, with 15-20 to get comfortable in most M20's and slightly longer in Turbo's. After 25+ hrs in a Mooney, the most common complaint is that they are kicking themselves for not buying one years earlier. I know it may sound like BS sales talk, but that is the truth. Ask for case histories or talk to most any Mooney owner for confirmation. I know of few, repeat very few, who sell their M20's because of it being hard or difficult to fly.

Question) How much stuff can I actually carry in a M20, and how much useful load do they really have?

Answer) Remember, you effectively load a M20's baggage compartment from the top down much like a chest type freezer. They will take generally more stuff in the baggage compartment than your average car trunk can carry. I find from a practical matter, they can actually take more baggage than most other singles. The (legal) useful load is just about what you would expect from most 4 place GA aircraft. Like most all 4 place GA aircraft, they are not a true (legal) 4 adult place, full baggage, and full fuel aircraft! The brochure useful load seems to be about 1,000 lbs. however, the M20 design isn't known to be a weight sensitive aircraft in both loading and CG.

While trying not to sound like a die hard Mooniac totally oblivious to any M20 design short-falls, unlike other designs such as the Grumman and the V-Tail brand B's, in the real world the M20 is known to be most forgiving in these areas. This is partly due to its all trimming tail, overly efficient design, and hell for stout construction. While not recommended, we have seen numerous Mooney pilots load 4 adults, reasonable baggage, and full fuel and operate regularly from reasonable fields. Performance doesn't seem to suffer and surprisingly neither does climb! Unlike the loading sensitive V Tails or Grumman's, they are actually difficult to get out of CG, but remember most however usually only have 180-210 hp, so be unusually careful with over gross hot, high, and humid short field performance take offs.

Question) How do they handle short (rough) fields and/or high altitude airports?

Answer) It isn't unusually adept at short rough fields, but it handles them OK. Remember, like most Brand P's etc., it only has the usual 600 X 6 main gear tires and a noticeably smaller one on the front! However it has super strong steel landing gear but for rough grass strips we would recommend you taking off the F/Glass inner gear doors-if so equipped. Usually, the non-turbo M20 POH's indicate approx. 1,600 ft. balanced field length at gross, but I usually recommend operating out of approx. 2,000 ft. w/average obstacles and carrying the usual cabin loads. Short fields aren't its nemesis nor it's strong suit. I would rate short and/or rough field capabilities at about average. Many are operated out of sod runways with no ill effect. I know several operators who use them on mountain strips just fine. Remember however, an M20 gets its performance through efficiency not brute HP. In most airborne situations it mimics aircraft having 50-85 more HP, but in practice and especially at take off it doesn't have actually have an abundance of excess Hp. It's main claim to fame is it's super efficient cruise performance.

Question) How do they handle IFR for a non-professionalor low time novice pilot/owners?

Answer) Cross country IFR is this aircraft's strong suit. It has a very solid stable flight character, it handles turbulence well, and it goes down the average ILS like it is on rails. If aircraft could talk, an M20 would say it is in his element flying hard IFR and when so doing, it is smiling. While others are equally adept, it is truly a fast efficient IFR cross country platform at its best.

Question) What kind of range can I expect?

Answer) The original short body M20s have 52 gal. fuel capacity which at approx. 10 gph & 180 mph give it about a 4 hour endurance or 700+ miles w/a reserve. The med length M20F/J's have 64 gal. tanks giving an extra hour or 180 miles. The turbos generally have about a 5 hour endurance and/or a 1,000 mile range w/reserves. A popular STCs 30 or 36 additional fuel capacity in expanded wing tanks adding significantly to range and endurance.

Question) I am a low time pilot. From a practical matter can I own, fly, and insure a Mooney?

Answer) Yes, yes, and YES. I know several students who (after solo) learned on Mooneys. In most flight regimes, they have a substantial natural buffet stall warning and very stout landing gear. The speed control in the pattern is no more difficult than most any other single, and speed brakes are nearly a miracle in slowing down and for approaches to and the actual landing. In fact, we say speed brakes make virtually every landing nearly a perfect landing, especially for low time, casual, or otherwise busy Mooney pilots. Insurance isn't usually a problem for low timers under the right circumstances.

Question) I have a Mooney now which I love, but I want more performance. What do you recommend?

Answer) Tough question. Assuming you are talking about aircraft performance here, it depends on which Mooney you have. If you have a highly modified pre-201 or a 201, I would say you could consider a M20K/231 (with certain mods), or preferably the great M20K/252 or even an M20M/TLS etc. There can be significant peformance increases when flying a non-turbo M20 and comparing to a turbo, especially when the turbo is being operated like it is designed to be. No doubt all Mooneys like to be flown high and can gain over 25+ mph in the FL's, so a turbo Mooney gives a recognizable increase or an order of magnitude greater performance over a non-turbo. This comes not only in rote speed but in safety and utility by taking you over much of the weather much of time as well. If you already have a turbo, then you have few choices within the piston powered arena. Outside of more creature comfort that a PA-46 Malibu cabin class type aircraft can give, to achieve an order of magnitude (significant) greater performance you probably would have to go to an Aerostar 601P, (or better yet a Machen Superstar conversion), or get into the turbine market with a late model King Air or (preferably) a Cheyenne 400LS etc. Actually, an older baby King Air 90 doesn't cruise much faster than a fast turbo M20 in the FL's.

Note: The term order of magnitude greater performance is usually used to indicate performance increases which are not only noticeable, but offer a measurable increase in utility or function. Most would say this should be an increase of a min. of 10-20%. For example, a turbo M20K/252 is termed to give such an increase over a stock 201 as (at altitude), it cruises some 25/30+ mph faster which is nearly a 17%+ increase.

Question)I only have a certain budget to work with. I am torn between going to the bank for a loan or settling with what I can buy now with cash.

Answer) I won't make the pretense of making financial decisions for you. However, not unlike mountain climbing or scuba equipment, I advise to buy as much of an aircraft as you can afford. If your life doesn't depend on it, certainly your blood pressure and/or your pucker factor will. I wouldn't ever advise scrimping on safety equipment (including certain avionics), primary maintenance, eng. scanners, and overall utility. Usually, if you buy an inferior Mooney you will spend the same money anyway later on bringing it up to your comfort level of equipment, up-dates/mods, appearance, and safety etc.

Question) It is obvious you are prejudiced for Mooneys. Admit it, after all you sell them. What grounds do you feel actually makes the Mooney better than most, especially the Bonanza for example?

Answer) I became familiar with Mooneys while in high school & college before ever sitting in them, let alone flying one. Instead of doing chemistry homework in the library I read pilot reports on every GA aircraft I got my hands on. The Mooneys always seemed to stand out in most every pilot report. I always liked things which did what they were supposed to do best, sort of like the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy (proper) Form Follows Function. It seems that if there was as much difference in cars as there was with GA aircraft such as the Mooneys near 20 MPG vs. the industry average 10-13 MPG, and/or some 20% greater speed, there would probably only be one car maker!

I got actively involved with Mooneys while in college as a CFI and like most pilots who experienced them first hand at what they do best, I soon learned to love them. It was years after that when I was successful in other businesses, that I brought my appreciation for the splendid efficient design into my business arena mostly by demand from other Mooney owners who wanted a modified one just like mine. The Bonanza is a fine aircraft, no doubt one of the best ever built. It is however, not quite as (overly) stout as a Mooney but has a nifty feel and sexy presence. If there wasn't a Mooney it would be a hard choice. Maybe a Myers 200 or a modified Bonanza. To me, most Cessnas are kind of bland and the Arrow is in a different league altogether.

Question) What are the Mooneys weakest design links or common problems, such as design or problem maintenance points, be honest and factual please?

Answer) Hard fact is the M20 airframe has never had a structural AD which is nearly amazing and unless you crash land them, they are hard to break. The aircraft doesn't have an abundance of cabin ambiance (extra room), and they require a mechanic who is familiar with the overall design and has the proper factory tools and training. Unlike Cessnas, Pipers, and most Beech's, not just any A&P is commonly familiar with the design intricacies. If you allow a power tug to over stress the nose gear it can be bent (kicked actually) costing some six to eight hundred. If you let it sit in the rain with leaking windows sometimes over time you can get rusty tubes, or if you let it sit empty all the time in the hot sun the fuel tank sealant can bake or dry out. Probably the worst part of Mooney ownership is taking it once a year or so to a Mooney specialist for inspections and major maintenance.

Question) My (home town) mechanic doesn't seem to like Mooneys much. Why?

Answer) Kind of like taking a Porsche or a Jag to a Chevy shop. Mooneys are built differently, there are fewer of them than Cessnas and Pipers, and they have steel fuselage tubes and push/pull control rods rather than cables. They are also admittedly more cramped to work on in the rear of the engine accessory case area where many mechanics (mag) inspection work takes place. To an experienced Mooney mechanic they do not present any problems, but most generic A&P's would rather take the path of least resistance and work on more familiar aircraft. No one should ever touch the airframe portion of your M20 without a factory service manual and factory tools.

Question) I am somewhat hesitant in buying a older vintage (Johnson Bar) Mooney because of the manual gear which I heard the gear is hard to operate. Is it?

Answer) No, generally all but the smallest women can operate a manual gear M20 if the proper speeds are kept during gear in transit as you develop a certain technique. There is a STC'd manual gear power assist available if you want, but actually we seem to convert about as many electric to manual as manual to electric. In practice, the actual main disadvantage to manual gear is the lack of map and chart storage between the two front seats while swinging the gear. Manual gear is the simplest and most inexpensive of all retract gear to maintain. A hand grease gun and aerosol spray can of Corrosion X or Tri-Flow is all you usually need about every six months.

Question) I am trying to decide between a turbo Mooney and non-turbo. I am afraid of the extra maintenance of a turbo. Your thoughts?

Answer) The M20 airframe loves flying high and generally a turbo gains about 3 MPH over a non-turbo M20 for every 1,000 Ft. in altitude you cruise at above about 7,000 Ft. MSL. Generally, the turbo will win any race of most all trips over a few hundred miles. They are especially well suited for trips over 3-500 miles and for toping much of the weather. In general we estimate that a turbo Mooney will cost approx. $2-4,000 more to maintain (on the average) in the usual 7-8 year ownership period than a normally aspirated Mooney. Interestingly however, because of the significantly higher cruise speeds when flown in the FL's, turbos can actually cost the same or even less on a cost per mile basis.

Note: Read the various chapters in The Backwards Tales for more details.

Question) Since I won't buy a damage history (DH) aircraft. Don't you agree that this is a sure fire way not to get burned?

Answer) Maybe, but then again, maybe not. As you might expect, this entire subject is covered in great detail in my book THE BACKWARDS TALES which is a popular option in our huge 6-7 lb Complete Mooney Buyers Kit. However, I will say that if you can tell that any individual Mooney hasn't been the recipient of any major repairs by simply looking at the logs and talking with its owner, you are a better Mooney Man (Mooniac) then me! In the real world (and not un-like other hi-performance GA aircraft), a huge percentage of the repaired M20's have un-reported or off-log repairs. It takes a true Mooney expert to discern quality but non-factory workmanship etc. And, what is more important, many otherwise fine Mooneys have been repaired to OEM standards or better and certainly should bear your (or some intelligent buyers) consideration.

Remember, like most aluminum GA structures, M20 Mooneys aren't built in Heaven by sinless winged angels floating around someplace. They are built by human beings (sinners) in Kerrville, Texas and in fact, largely by older German women, and consist of over 83,000 individual riveted and bolted together parts and assemblies. These same parts or components can be taken apart (usually drilled apart) and re-assembled or re-riveted w/out doing any harm or causing any difference in structural or visual effect. Remember, these things aren't composite or fiberglass structures which are baked or cured with only one or two pieces in some huge oven or autoclave someplace. Facts are, it usually doesn't hurt to take them apart and put them back together again if done properly by talented mechanics especially when using OEM components. Get the point?

Question) How much does it cost to annual and/or to maintain a M20 per year of normal maintenance?

Answer) Again, this subject is covered in the first chapter of my book: The Backwards Tales which is usually shipped in our well received Mooney Buyers Kit. We normally perform inspections on (known) clean M20s for under $800 fixed, and with the usual squawks the total bills can be under $2K. We estimate that you should budget about the same amount for a Mooney as most fixed gear singles such as a 172/182 or Cherokee 180 etc. Generally speaking the M20 airframe is nearly bulletproof, and maintaining the engine and associated systems cost similar to any other 4 cyl. Lycoming aircraft.

Note: See previous Q&A for turbo's.

Question)If Mooneys are so darn good, in your opinion why do people buy other kind of high performance aircraft?

Answer) Beats me! No really, obviously a Mooney isn't for everyone, but in its class, and even out of it, it is truly a hard design to beat. I often thought that one of the smartest things Mooney Aircraft Co. could do was to put a Mooney Demo Team on tour around the country and give 20 min demo flights on a cost basis. Mooneys are after all, fairly rare in that there are far fewer M20's than most comparable aircraft and almost none in any rental or instructional fleets. Very few non-owners have ever flown a Mooney, and very few of the magazine articles are ever written by authors who have actually owned one and flown one extensively. Consequently the marketplace is rife with lots of old stale half-truths etc. being somewhat perpetuated within the marketplace.

Frankly, don't take my word for it. The ownership satisfaction rate (or length of ownership cycles) confirms: The more you know the true facts, the more you will admire and appreciate Mooneys. They are truely an aircraft which was designed way ahead of it's time.

Bonanzas are also an equally great, high performance aircraft, it is just that they usually cost lots more to buy, operate, and certainly a whole lot more to buy parts for while not offering much (if any) more room, and certainly not more performance a better accident record etc. Facts are, the hardest part of Mooney ownership is buying one.

The Private Aircraft Sellers Threshold Of Honesty Syndrome:

Or, In other words; How Not To Buy A Mooney!

While we all know we don't live in a perfect world, for some reason aircraft sellers seem to sometimes practice sort of an extended or exaggerated version of Laissez Faire when selling. That means, more often than not it can be buyer beware to the max.

High Performance Aircraft ownership is perhaps one of life's most rewarding experiences. Unfortunately however, one un-pleasant aspect of acquiring a high performance aircraft today is the fact that many such airframes are now approaching well over 10, 20, or even 30+ years old and many can have seemingly hidden, put off, or deferred maintenance problems or worse. As stated elsewhere in this site, when dealing with sellers we term this phenomenon the The Threshold Of Honesty Syndrome.

One ethical or psychological aspect we have noticed in our experience of nearly 20 years of marketing Mooneys, is that many times when an owner is selling, the temptation to over state condition or forget, mis-represent or (seemingly) even outright lie about the aircraft in question simply becomes too great. In essence, the combination of a distant one shot transaction (presumably with you) combined with the large $dollar$ amounts in question can cloud the sellers (otherwise) good ethics and (in effect) exceed many sellers Threshold Of Honesty Quotient.

Remember: Not All Dogs Are Easy To Spot.

Question) Obviously you (and/or your company) is well known within the Mooney market for being an expert on Mooneys. How would you describe your reputation within the industry and what I may expect if I elect to do business with your company?

Answer) Good question! First off, we would hope you find everyone to be responsive to your wants and needs as a Mooney owner and that your experience dealing with us is one which you would enjoy. If not, please bring it to my attention personally. Our central goal is to establish long term relationships...without fail. We speak your language as most of us fly Mooneys and I personally known what it is like to own and maintain a Mooney. When acting as a broker and as you can imagine, often times it is extremely difficult to be somewhat caught in the middle between a seller who doesn't (naturally) want to spend any more money on his aircraft but only wants to sell, and a buyer who wants the absolute best deal he can get and an aircraft which will fly for years w/out him spending much in the way of maintenance. We feel we genuinely try to treat folks the way we would want to be treated whether you are selling or buying, and we hope that thought process would come through very soon when you become acquainted with us. One thing for sure, if for any reason you aren't happy, we sincerely want you to tell us. Don't be shy! Get our attention and let us know. Certainly don't tell others and then fail to discuss any situation with us, for if you do that, you will only have yourself to blame... We genuinely feel our reputation is our most important asset, and it is that theme which we hope comes through in our mission statement, no question.

True, Honest To Goodness Real Life Horror Stories Revised

What follows are accurate summaries of actual case histories and real world buyer's reports of what can happen with un-informed buyers.

The names and unique distinguishing elements may have been omitted to protect the innocent and (regrettably) the guilty.

Note: Keep watching this captivating section as more stories will be added on a regular basis. distinguishing elements may have been omitted to protect the innocent and (regrettably) the guilty. Note: Keep watching this captivating section as more stories will be added on a regular basis.

1) The Case of Betty Crocker Logs

This involved a South East U.S seller and a Mid West buyer on a 1967 M20F. The logs looked like they were written by Betty Crocker in an A&P school for a final exam. They were impeccable. Every oil change was noted along with oil analysis and every battery and break puck installed was listed along with their part numbers etc. The owner swore it had no damage history and that it was a 3 owner Mooney which was always hangared.

Upon close examination, nearly every wing and fuselage skin had been replaced along with both flaps and ailerons! Wow! This Mooney had seen some memorable kind of incident (to say the least), or had been flown through (or sieved by) Germany's Black Forrest at high speed!

When confronted, the owner all but fessed up and sheepishly agreed to take an appropriate price reduction as well as pay to us to clean up the logs and several of the repairs which were not up to OEM standards.

2) The Bondo Bandit

The Airline Chief Of Maintenance Way To Repair Rusty 4130 Fuselage Structural Tubes:

The seller assured us that he; Knew all about Mooneys because he not only was a Mooney pilot, but also Chief Maintenance Officer of XX Air (a major U.S air carrier), but he had a co-worker buddy I/A who just helped him annual this '64 M20E and thus it now was ready to sell. What we found was nearly the exact opposite!

Besides nearly quitting on us in-flight on the way to our shop, (due to a bad fuel injector servo and trash in the fuel system), upon our pre-buy inspection it was found that their (apparent) method of repairing rusty 4230 fuselage tubes was to use hardware store aerosol foam to fill the voids (where the 4130 fuselage structural tube had rusted away completely), and then to Bondo (automotive body filler) over the missing sections while shaping them round to look like the completely missing rusty 4130 fuselage structural tube sections.

The finishing touch was when they slapped on heavy coats of an industrial strength primer to cover up their repair job.

Upon our discovery of said shoddy (to say the least) or fraudulent situation, the selling owner denied any involvement of said work. Not only did we find completely rusted through or missing structural fuselage tubes, our shop personnel and the new buyer was dismayed by the audacity of the situation. Needless to say we are hesitant of flying on that former owners airline! We hope that form of maintenance is not found by any of you.

3) Mickey Mouse Ain't Always Nice, Or Impeccable Logs, One Owner, Always Hangared & Guess What?

A Horribly Corroded Wing Spar Cap Assy.

Again, the logs couldn't read any better. The '65 M20E had been owned by the same owner for 27 years and had logs bespeaking impeccable maintenance. On the surface at least, it looked the part as well. Upon pre-buy inspection we found a bottom main wing spar had corroded badly to the point that it was nearly 25% thinner in spots than it was when it left the factory! As it turns out, several generations or families of field mice had been making their home in side the wings for years and they weren't potty trained. Their left-overs are highly corrosive to the 7606T6 Aluminum Wing Spar Caps and when accumulated with droppings and nest debris, it was more than the Mooney's wing could handle.

Damage Repair Estimate: $12,000+. Believe it or not, the hardy potential buyer still purchased the aircraft when we completed the repairs, and lived happily ever after!

4) Liar, Liar Slide Rule On Fire

Or, The Case Of The Self Proclaimed Honest, Nit Picky Engineer's Outright Un-truthful Representation or (in plain words) Bold Faced Lie

The call came in to purchase or broker a clean and (otherwise) low total time '79 M20K/231 for a N.E. based Engineer who was retiring and loved his Mooney but wasn't going to use it much anymore in retirement. He read the specs off to us several times on several occasions over the phone, and clearly stated the turbo Mooney was Overhauled to LB Specs approx. 700 hrs ago. He went into great detail telling exactly what parts were replaced with TCM's improved LB parts, and even remarked that although it still had the GB engine data tag attached, the engine was (in reality) an LB. This claim of fact was clearly repeated numerous times over the phone to several of our employees and so we agreed to broker or purchase the Mooney.

Upon arrival on location of the ferry pilot, the owner (reportedly) repeated same claims again but due to closing weather, the owners professional (appearing) demeanor, and a mix up of the ferry pilot not having an exact or full print out of the aircraft specs as reported to us by the owner, the deal was struck and the flight back began.

Upon arrival back at our facility, our mechanics soon discovered that the the previously reported LB Overhaul was actually only a Top O/Haul and that the engine actually had nearly double the SMOH or SNEW time as originally represented. In our opinion, we had little doubt the owner had perpetrated outright fraud.

But upon confrontation, (of course) the seller denied ever saying anything about an O/Haul, let alone a LB O/Haul!

So much for trusting Nit Picky super honest (appearing) engineer pipe smoking types.

5) If You Can't Trust A Good 'Ole Southern Preacher, Who Can You Trust?

As bizarre as this case sounds it is true! An innocent first time buyer reports that he had numerous conversations with a preacher who just couldn't afford his Mooney any longer and the buyer thought it was a good deal. He asked about a pre-buy inspection and we advised him to get one, preferably to fly the M20F to our facility prior to consummating the deal. Thinking he was dealing with and honorable seller he (naturally) didn't question certain basic hard core truths about the sellers statements such as having complete logs etc.

The seller furnished his local A&P who did a fair pre-buy, but didn't really examine all the (apparent; ed) logs. When the seller presented the logs to the anxious and hurried buyer they were in a big paper bag and due to the age of the plane, there were several tattered old airframe logs books which had been held together with an unusual amount of huge (industrial strength) rubber bands etc.

The current era airframe/eng. log books were viewed by the buyer and when he asked about the contents of the first few years (actually 15-20+ years worth) of original old old logs, the seller remarked: heck, I never looked inside them much, but they are all there if you want. As time was pressing and the sun was setting, the novice buyer made his deal, paid his money, and flew away; fat dumb and happy.

When he brought it to our shop a few weeks later for mods etc, we removed the rubber bands on the first few logs and Wow, were we all surprised! Someone had neatly taken lots of time to cut out a kids school notebook pages to fit exactly to the size of the old Mooney OEM airframe log book covers and stuffed the worthless empty pages inside. What appeared to be genuine aircraft logs on the outside by looking at the covers, were actually nothing but that; airframe log book covers with new appearing, but totally worthless blank pages inside!

You can guess the sellers suddenly terse "Why bother me with your problems?" response when the buyer called him from our service counter; can't you... No (after the fact) price adjustment for lost or missing logs! The new owner was heart fallen.

Suffer the little children.

6) The Salt Bog Mooney

An insurance adjuster I know called for me to bid on an M20K/231 which had lost it's throttle cable during an approach into Jacksonville, FL. The result of this was an engine which went into idle mode in flight, when just a little more power would have resulted in the pilot being able to make it to the runway. As a result, nobody was injured when it landed in a the salt flats or salt bog consisting of about 4 feet of salt water marsh about a mile or so inland. While everyone did their job and the aircraft was quickly recovered and towed to the nearest airport, the fact remained it had still largely been under water and in salt water at that!

Due to the possible immense long term corrosive problems salt water introduces to any GA airframe, let alone electrical connections, the M20's unique 4130 steel tube fuselage structure, and (just as importantly) its laminated spar construction which would have allowed salt moisture to enter the laps and seams etc., I felt the M20 should have been destroyed and not even sold for scrap parts—let alone sold as a complete Mooney ostensibly to fly again!

While it looked good otherwise sitting there on the airport ramp, the sea weeds, sand, and debris inside the cockpit made me sick to my stomach.

I argued with the insurance adjuster that at a bare minimum, when advertising this (otherwise minimally damaged) Mooney for sale to others not having the privilege of seeing it freshly recovered (like me), it should be clearly stated (via clear permanent airframe log entry & on the spec sheet) that the true damage was partial immersion in SALT WATER, and that log entry and/or sales statement would at least put on notice the next buyer and all subsequent owners of the potential corrosion problems which were sure to rear their ugly heads as time worked its way with this sad Mooney.

Not so, as this Mooney was advertised as a minimally damaged off airport landing incident in the insurance ad/bid sheet which was sent to many Mooney dealers and GA salvage yards by the insurance carrier. It is my belief that this Mooney is now flying at the hands of some un-suspecting owner. I kept a record of it's N number/serial number and to this day, feel sorry for the new owner.

7) The Like New, One Owner, No Damage (NDH) Mooney... Yea!

The respectful businessman and owner of a late model M20J/201 asked us to broker his pristine, NDH, and "I picked it up myself brand new and I am the only one who ever flew it.", Mooney because he stated; didn't have time to fly much any more.

It presented itself at the onset as being somewhat neglected, slightly dirty, but overall in good condition. The logs looked clean with one mention of replacing one outboard wing skin. When asked, the older, respectful appearing, gentlemen owner stated that it was the result of slight storm damage blowing debris and that the wing was only dented slightly, but he elected to have the skin replaced so as to keep the aircraft perfect in every way.

Because the owner wanted absolutely top dollar (and then some), it took longer to attract a buyer than normal but when we finely did, it was time to bring it in for a pre-buy and check the logs thoroughly as well as the other FAA paperwork etc. When we queried the FAA's files in OK, City boy were we surprised!

As it turns out the wing dent was actually the result of a full fledged tornado which landed at least two other aircraft on and under (can you believe it) this Mooney and consequently it had 3 ribs, 4 wing skins, the gear doors, and several wing stringer replaced as well as NEARLY ALL of the control surfaces replaced! Not that this is all bad, as the workmanship was OEM quality or similar, but we had been lied to.

You can imagine our embarrassment when we explained this to the prospective buyer!

I have to admit, I was somewhat less than subtle with the owner as I explained to him that this was not the way we do business, and that he had severely disappointed me in the fact that he had (apparently) hid both the full repair history and (conveniently) lost the associated FAA Form 337's which were missing from the aircraft's paperwork.

In fact, afterward when he (again) flatly denied having any knowledge of the magnitude of the repairs, I literally put the repair facility on the speaker phone to him and he heard in my office the repairing A&P explain to the both of us how he (the owner) (A&P's quote) knew damn well exactly what was done and why.

We don't mind handling Mooneys which have had quality repairs. But when known to us, we always reveal same and then thoroughly inspect same for quality of workmanship etc. prior to a sale. In this case, I was miffed because I felt I was outright lied to, and I apparently was! Happens sometime when a buyer experiences his passage of The Threshold of Honesty...

8) The Saga of The Ex-Fighter Pilot Annual

Or (In other words), The Case Of The Evinrude Mooney Which Couldn't Even Make It Home.

We all seem to respect military or ex-military pilots to some degree or another. An elderly, long time Mooney owner tearfully swore to an experienced prospective buyer that his 1968 M20F was his absolute pride and joy, had a 3 days old hands on annual with an equally honorable local A&P/IA, and that after all he damn well knew airplanes as he flew P-51's in the big war! Our awe struck but veteran M20 buyer (4 time prior M20 owner himself, no less), said OK, I'll buy it! Our boy actually bought this gentleman's Mooney totally depending on the 3 day old annual still having wet ink in the logs and the 73+/- year old sellers word that even though it had a high time engine (nearly some 1800 hrs), the compression was still perfect up in the high 70's, and that it would go on running well into the next millennium and beyond! When asked if it used any oil, the ex P-51 pilot's word was; naw, never had to add any between oil changes, flies like a Swiss watch.

Well now comes real the fun! Our buy had a friend who was going to be in the area (MN), and who agreed to fly it home for our trusting soul. At the first fuel stop he called in his report; Hay, I had to add two quarts of oil and this thing is sure running kind of rough for a Swiss watch. He was advised to stop every 2 hrs or so as a precaution because the 1,350 sm. mi. trip home would take nearly all day and the anxious waiting owner wanted to take no chances. Next fuel stop in Birmingham took some 3 quarts, with the next nearly an amazing 4 quarts with little showing on the dip stick. After the third stop, the oil pressure started to fluctuate in flight and the prop started to go into high pitch, none a good sign! The pilot (nearly) declared an emergency and brought it back to idle while making an emergency landing at the airport luckily directly beneath him.

Upon landing, it showed absolutely no oil remaining even though it probably had a few quarts not showing on the dip stick. Our hairy chested pilot had enough! He refused to go on. Our formerly trusting new owner was forced to beg a flight up to retrieve his new pride and joy while putting 5 more quarts of oil in it for the last 45 minute flight home.

Total flight time home; 10.5 hrs. Total oil consumed; an amazing 15 quarts!

Now the nasty stuff began when when our red faced new owner called his ol' buddy the ex-fighter jock. Too busy out playing golf to talk was what he heard. Your pilot burned up the engine, and I have an important golf game scheduled, and by the way, don't ever call me again! Now our guy was both embarrassed and mad that he had been outright deceived. So he dialed AI's shop who had just signed off the logs saying compression was 76/77/75/74... It was fine here for us was what he heard on the other end of the Minnesota line. You can call the Fed's if you want, but I am an old man too. I did a good annual. Sorry to hear you had problems but I was thinking about retiring anyway and maybe it is time.

What to do? As this is being written and when he came to us with his fine pot of stew... he hasn't decided. The owner won't return his calls and while the FAA would probably investigate and maybe take action against the mechanic, he is faced with a worthless un-airworthy engine that while he had thought would give a few years flying, is now burning more oil than any two stroke Evinrude for sure. Happens sometime when a buyer experiences his passage through the sellers The Threshold of Honesty Syndrome.

9) The old; It was just annualed and my mechanics are great story!

Or, How many mechanics can miss 4130 rusty tubes and not even be sorry about it!

It was a '79 M20K/231 which has been hangered in a dry Western state for nearly all of it's life and maintained by a large respectable FBO for years. The owner had to sell quickly and the ink was still wet from the last annual when the buyer succumbed to the sellers timetable to close within a day or so....or I will sell it to a friend who has been bugging me! Breaking a hard rule of not having a Mooney savvy mechanic verify at least a few basic facts as to 4130 rust and 7606T6 spar corrosion, the anxious buyer agreed to rest on the last annual after talking with the mechanic and hearing how great he was and how well he knew Mooneys!

Well, you can guess how things when went once the new owner brought it in to our shop with our guys pointing out that it obviously had leaky windows for years, still had the old style yellow F/Glass batt insulation installed, and it was doubtful that anyone had taken the time to inspect behind any of the Royalite since Carter was President! The result was some $4,800 worth of avoidable repairs to the 4130 steel structural tubing which when pointed out to the last shop resulted in their telling us how it wasn't their fault because the owner hadn't insisted on the Royalite to be removed and they never said they were Mooney experts after all, Oh well.

10) It is perfect. After all, it has a freshly overhauled engine by one of the best shops in the Midwest, and it runs just fine, said the seller.

We had known of this highly modified M20F/J aircraft existing and possibly being for sale for some time. It looked just great and only had about 15-20 hours on its engine since overhauled by a Midwest based FAA Repair Station. However, we also had somewhat of a nervous seller who somewhat mysteriously wouldn't let us pick it up until first one, then a second shop did some additional, engine work just to make sure things were fine. Resting on the recent FWF overhaul log entries which we documented via copies of the ships logs, we then made preparations to pick up this otherwise great looking and well equipped Mooney to broker it.

Acting as a broker, we quickly brokered it to its anxious new buyer who didn't have lots of Mooney time and wanted to hang around the SW Florida area some while he accumulated some easy local Mooney time and experience prior to the trip home. After closing, taking full possession (and responsibility for an as is saleetc.), and then flying it for nearly 10 hours he started complaining about a lazy prop which wouldn't behave properly. We investigated and found a prop which simply wouldn't hold RPM properly and so, we sent first the prop, and then the prop governor out for O/Haul. Still experiencing a problem after their return, we investigated further only to find extremely low oil pressure readings at the front end of the crankcase when we put a measured amount of pressure on the rear. The front is where the prop gov. takes its oil feed, so we consulted with Lycoming who confirmed that there was (in deed) something wrong internally with the main bearing VS crank clearances.

Upon disassembly we found that one of the best shops in the Midwest had used the wrong kind of hardening case half sealer which had hardened too fast and prior to the case halves being properly torqued together. A softer sealer is called for which allows time to be more fluid and thus allow itself to be squeezed out from between the two mating surfaces.

Such a small error to make with such expensive consequences. We couldn't get the overhauling repair station to accept any warranty consideration, so we were stuck with all the cost ourselves in order to make it right in the new buyers eyes; which is what we did.

Live and learn... or so even us experienced folks do every day!

Horror Saga's # 11,12, 13, 14, and maybe to 101) Coming Soon!

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Should you consider a Damage History (DH) Mooney Aircraft?

While taking extra precautions with an aircraft which has had significant repairs is smart, some overly egotistical or smarty pants (i.e.; know it all) but novice buyers simply won't consider anything but (what they think is) a No Damage History (NDH) Mooney!

Good Luck!

True facts are, by making virtually every Mooney you consider pass an (apparent) NDH litmus test, you will miss out on lots of otherwise great Mooneys. For my money, truly intelligent and knowledgeable buyers keep an open mind. They never automatically rule out every damage or repair history Mooney they come across. Remember as smart and informed as you think you (and your inspecting mechanic) may be on the front end of the deal, many, no make that a whole lot of NDH Mooneys have some, if not lots of DH or repair history which was simply not recorded in the logs or even filed with the FAA via a 337 Form! Usually however, a razor sharp extremely experienced Mooniac A&P can tell by looking at certain key areas if non-OEM rivets and/or materials and/or workmanship were used etc. which is a telltale give a way if off logs repairs were made. But then, if the repairs or that good, do we care? Only an expert will know.

Note: Besides (perhaps) the author, former Mooney VP, Cust. Service Ed Penney, and several of my mechanics, I only know of a handful of true Mooniac type mechanics in the whole of the U.S. which rarely get fooled by non-logged hidden damage and even by picture perfect Betty Crocker Logs.

Remember: Unlike composite or molded aircraft (or boats), etc., Mooneys are made of approx. 83,412 parts which are bolted, riveted, and huckbolted together. For the most part, a Mooney can be taken apart and put back together again (many times) largely w/out any significant problems, or especially without sacrificing any structural (or even cosmetic) integrity etc. For more on this subject, please see my book which deals in DH in much more detail. cj

On known DH or perhaps what is a better term; repair history M20's, don't just back away. Just take a little longer to get a thorough and smart pre-buy inspection from someone who thoroughly, repeat THOROUGHLY knows, eats, lives, and breathes, Mooneys everyday! It helps to have them examine the original incident or accident circumstances and/or situation, maybe even talk to the folks who were involved, as well as examine the quality of workmanship of the repairs.

Moreover, any Mooney which was landed off airport bears close scrutiny as to exactly the nature of the incident as well as the resultant quality of repairs. Usually however, a simple gear up &/or hangar damage, or even a simple botched landing of years ago, bears little actual significance on the current salability, integrity, or value on an otherwise good well maintained Mooney. Note: I am however, especially leary of all flooded Mooneys and would strongly discourage you from purchasing them unless you do a detailed investagation. Remember, many airports lay in low laying areas and there are lots more previously flooded Mooneys out there than you think.

For What it is worth: I know of several MAPA Award Winning, downright beautiful M20's which have been extensively repaired more than once, but are now exquisite in every way and Mooneys which I would recommend to anyone!

Coy Jacob's Mooney Mart: Where Our Reputation And Product Knowledge Are Our Most Valuable Assets.